Laughter as a Science: Eight Ways To Our Funny Bone

March 21, 2009

(ChattahBox)—British evolutionary theorist Alastair Clarke, recently published another groundbreaking explanation of the science behind humor. Clarke suggests all humor is universal and based on just eight patterns, which our brains process and recognize instantly as humorous. In a nutshell, Clarke believes humor occurs when our brains recognize surprise, and the reward is a good chuckle. Clarke theorizes, our abilities to recognize and process patterns helped us evolve from primitive man to the more advanced, problem-solving species we are today. Clarke’s eight patterns all are based on surprise recognition and range from simplistic to the more intuitive. Perhaps lowbrow humor evolves from the first patterns our brains process and our brains then quickly cycle through all eight patterns to find more intuitive humor.

Clarke’s theories debunk previous, limited studies of laughter, which focused primarily on “getting a joke.” Clarke’s expanded theories focus on the concept of universal humor, which is not limited by civilization, culture or personal taste. This means an African tribesman will find the same things humorous as a member of British royalty, for example

The eight patterns of humor are divided into two main categories. The first category contains the four patterns of basic repetition, which Clarke dubs patterns of fidelity. The next category contains complex patterns of multiple contexts, which Clarke calls patterns of magnitude. Clarke claims these eight patterns are recognized in hundreds of different types of humor, from the lowbrow to the more urbane.

Clarke compares the fidelity category as a basic mathematical cognitive toolbox, which our brains use to quickly label something as funny. The magnitude category, represents the next level of humor recognition using syntactical systems to process more sophisticated humor, based on a person’s experiences and subjective matter. Many people only make use of the first category, while others use varying combinations of all eight patterns.

Clarke’s theories of laughter also have implications for child development. Clarke believes humorous games are an important part of an infant’s development of perceptual abilities. The next time you find something funny, it means your brain just went through a quick series of pattern recognitions to unearth the element of surprise. Who knew that a good chuckle was so complex.

Clarke’s new theories are available for the next 30 days, as a free eBook.


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